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Start/Bench List: Week 14
John Tuvey
Updated: December 9, 2011
CLE at PIT KCC at NYJ HOU at CIN OAK at GBP Start/Bench List by Position
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Start/Bench Codes (SBC)
S1: Start 'em Tier One (Stud / Great matchup) U: Upside player (Possible sleeper)
S2: Start 'em Tier Two (Solid matchup) X: Unclear situation / Could go either way
S3: Start 'em Tier Three (Borderline / Barely) B: Bench 'em (Bad Matchup / Too much risk)
San Francisco at Arizona Back to top
San Francisco
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Alex Smith S3

Smith has actually been fantasy relevant two of the last three weeks, including 267 and 2 against these very Cardinals in Week 11. That’s the only multiple touchdown game Arizona has allowed in the last month and a half, however, so don’t go overboard giddy on this one; Smith is a fringe fantasy start at best.

RB Frank Gore S2

Gore banged out 24-88 in the earlier meeting, and there’s nothing standing between him and something similar in Arizona. The Cards haven’t allowed a running back touchdown since Week 10, though, so Gore’s a better play in yardage-based scoring systems.

RB Kendall Hunter U

Hunter saw 11 carries in relief of Gore in the previous meeting, and with the division all but wrapped up it wouldn’t be surprising to see another double-digit workload—one that Hunter could easily turn into a productive fantasy outing.

WR Michael Crabtree S3 Only the Patriots have given up more yards to wide receivers than the Cardinals, and Crabtree did his share of the damage with 120 in the earlier meeting with Arizona. Coming off a solid 4-96-1 effort against St. Louis, no reason to think Crabtree can’t get it done once again against the Cards’ secondary.
TE Vernon Davis S3

The Cardinals couldn’t find Davis in Week 11 as he turned 10 targets into five catches, 67 yards, and a touchdown. Three weeks later, the potential for a similar showing warrants a fantasy start in TE-mandatory leagues.

DT 49ers S2 The Niners haven’t given up more than 20 points since Week 4, including holding Arizona to a single touchdown in Week 11 and shutting out the Rams last week. That’s bound to boost your defensive fantasy points.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Kevin Kolb B

Only one of the last six quarterbacks to face the Niners has thrown more than one touchdown, and that includes Arizona’s two-headed entry of John Skelton and Richard Bartel in Week 11. Kolb’s 247 and 1 against Dallas was borderline fantasy relevant, but even those mediocre numbers will be tough to reach against the 49ers.

RB Chris Wells
S3 The Niners have yet to allow a running back rushing score this year, a stretch that includes holding Wells to 8-33 in Week 11. Beanie has earned some cred with 22-83-1 in Baltimore and 20-67-1 against the Cowboys last week, but only you can decide if you trust him enough to generate more than 33 yards this time around.
WR Larry Fitzgerald

Maybe Kolb forgot how good Fitz is; in his first game back Kolb only threw seven passes Larry’s way, his lowest target total in more than a month. The Niners haven’t allowed a wide receiver touchdown since Fitz found the end zone against them in Week 11, so this isn’t a particularly favorable matchup. But it’s Fitz, so you can’t sit him.

WR Early Doucet
Andre Roberts

Both secondary targets had more yardage than Fitz the last time these teams tangled, but with both topping out around 50 yards and failing to score it was hardly a fantasy helper. If anything Fitz should see more work this time around, relegating Doucet and Roberts to fantasy benches everywhere.

DT Cardinals S3 Patrick Peterson is fast becoming the kind of player who can single-handedly make a defense/special teams unit worthy of fantasy attention.
Oakland at Green Bay Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Carson Palmer S2

Even without his go-to wideouts Palmer mustered 273 and 2 in Miami last week. Playing catch-up against the Packers this week he’ll need to do even more—maybe something along the lines of the 306 and 2 Green Bay is giving up on average.

RB Michael Bush

With Darren McFadden likely sidelined one more week this could be Bush’s final opportunity to make his case for a fat offseason contract. He stays on the field in passing situation, which won’t hurt, and a decent combo-yardage day should be in order.

WR Denarius Moore
Jacoby Ford

Both speedy receivers have been ruled out for this week's tilt with their respective foot injuries. Perhaps they shouldn't have shared a water bottle with Darren McFadden.

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
Chaz Schilens

If there’s 300 passing yards up for grabs and Moore and Ford aren’t around to collect it, somebody has to step up. Of late that somebody has been DHB (18 targets, 7-65-1) and Schilens (15 targets, 10-147) and with both Moore and Ford on the sidelines DHB and Schilens are in line to pile up the numbers again this week.

DT Raiders B Aaron Rodgers doesn’t make mistakes and the Pack are going to put up 40-plus points. Nothing there suggests you trot out a fantasy defense against this steamroller.
Green Bay
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Aaron Rodgers S1

The Raiders have served up multiple passing touchdowns in nine of their last 11 games. Rodgers trumps that with multiple TD tosses in every stinkin’ game this year, as well as at least 250 yards. Just stand back and watch.


Ryan Grant
Brandon Saine


With James Starks still nursing whatever he banged up a couple games ago we’ll see more Grant and Saine. Maybe they’ll carve out 40-50 yards from scrimmage each. And most likely John Kuhn or B.J. Raji will steal their touchdown.

WR Greg Jennings


He’s scored in five of six, seven of nine, and nine of 12 and is as close to automatic as you can get.

WR Jordy Nelson


Seven of Nelson’s nine touchdowns have come at Lambeau, and he’s made a leap at every home date this season. He’s also averaging more than 30 yards per game more at home. No wonder he re-signed.

TE Jermichael Finley


Ah, the weekly conundrum. So full of potential, yet so slippery-fingered and frustrating. Finley feasted on a favorable matchup last week with 6-87-1 and now faces an Oakland defense that’s allowed TE TDs to NFC North tight ends two of the last three weeks. There aren’t a whole lot of more compelling options, so the Frustrator is probably in your lineup again this week.

DT Packers S2 The Raiders served up a defensive touchdown last week; the Packers scored one. That’s a positive trend; so is playing at home and having Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews on your defense.
Buffalo at San Diego Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick S2

It’s been a battle for Fitz, as he’s lost pieces of the puzzle on a regular basis since signing that fat new contract. A date with a San Diego defense that’s allowed multiple touchdown passes to four of the last five quarterbacks they’ve faced should help him get back in the saddle.

RB C.J. Spiller S3

The Chargers aren’t a shutdown run D by any stretch, but they’ve been significantly tougher to run on at home. Spiller will get the carries and could carve out decent combo yardage; just don’t bank on a score.

WR Steve Johnson S2

Stevie is back in the habit of finding the end zone, though it’s been a while since he posted a big yardage outing. The Bolts have surrendered at least one WR TD in every game since their Week 6 bye, and Johnson is the odd-on favorite to corral it here.

WR David Nelson
Brad Smith

Buffalo’s secondary receivers aren’t being ignored, and both Smith (11-149-1) and Nelson (8-81-1) have been reasonably productive wingmen. With San Diego’s offense looking to be hitting on all cylinders the Bills will have to put up points in this one, which should mean there’s enough stat love to go around.

DT Bills B The Bills have failed to generate a turnover in three of the last four games and have a total of three sacks in the last five. Tough to produce defensive fantasy points when you’re not doing the things that make turnovers and defensive scores possible.
San Diego
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Philip Rivers S1

You can look at it like the Bills have held three straight quarterbacks under 200 yards. Or you can look at it like the Bills have allowed three or more TD tosses in three of the last four games. After watching Rivers light up the Jaguars on Monday night, his fourth multi-TD game in the last five, we’re going with the latter look.

RB Ryan Mathews S1 Chris Johnson (153 & 2) and DeMarco Murray (135 & 1) both had their way with Buffalo on the ground; sandwiched in between were split outings by the Dolphins (84 yards and a TD) and Jets (105 yards). Mathews is running extremely well right now, with back-to-back 100-yard efforts to his credit, and a third straight at home against the Bills would hardly surprise.
RB Mike Tolbert S3 With Mathews on a roll Tolbert’s workload has taken a bit of a hit. However, he’s still going to see around 10 touches, and against a softer run D like the Bills that should be enough—especially if Tolbert gets to put his goal-line skills to good use.
WR Vincent Jackson S2 The Chargers called off the passing game dogs against Jacksonville last week, but not until Jackson had 4-72-1 to his credit. The mercurial Jackson has been more hit than miss of late, and with his big-game upside he gets the benefit of the doubt here.
WR Vincent Brown
Malcom Floyd
S3 Both secondary targets scored last week, though Floyd was targeted more frequently and had the bigger overall day. The Bills haven’t allowed monster games to receivers but instead are giving up a lot of good games; that sort of sharing suits the San Diego passing game to a T and puts both Floyd and Brown in play this week.
TE Antonio Gates S2

Only two teams have allowed more TE TDs than the Bills, and it’s not like you need to search for reasons to get a healthy Gates into your fantasy lineup.

DT Chargers B

Defense hasn’t been the Chargers’ forte this season, and there’s nothing here to suggest you’ll suddenly get some fantasy help from them this week.

NY Giants at Dallas Back to top
New York
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Eli Manning S2

Eli has multiple touchdowns in four straight against the Cowboys, with three 300-yard games to his credit as well. Dallas has played surprisingly well in the secondary and given up just one multi-TD outing in the past five games, but Eli is on a roll of his own with 300-plus yards in three of four and multiple scoring strikes in five of six so don’t bet against him here.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw

Bradshaw hasn’t scored since his Week 6 hat trick, but now that he’s back in the lineup he’ll be good for his usual dose of combo yardage. He had 199 yards in last season’s series with the Cowboys and is a decent yardage-league play against a Dallas defense that isn’t too far removed from giving up back-to-back-to-back 100 yard games.

RB Brandon Jacobs

Jacobs is nursing a hamstring injury; he sat out practice Wednesday and Thursday and was limited on Friday. He hasn't been particularly effective even when healthy, and with Ahmad Bradshaw back in the mix his touches will be reduced. That said, he’s scored in two of his last three meetings with the Cowboys and still gets some goal line work so he's a viable option this week.

WR Hakeem Nicks

Nicks had 190 yards and two TDs in last season’s series and should once again present a matchup problem for the Cowboys. No reason not to bank on him this week.

WR Victor Cruz


Cruz is carving out a role as the big-play guy in this offense. Does that mean he picks up the 101 and 1 Steve Smith produced in the front end of last season’s series? Does he replace the 131 and 2 Mario Manningham posted? Does he combine both? Doesn’t matter; Cruz belongs in your lineup.

WR Mario Manningham


Manningham has had success in this series, scoring in both meetings last year and totaling 131 yards, but a sore knee limited him in practice all week and may hamper his effectiveness. He's listed as probable so you shouldn't have to sweat out the Sunday night start, but with Nicks and Cruz playing well Mario could get lost in the shuffle. Between the injury risk and the competition for looks, he's a fringe fantasy play at best.

TE Jake Ballard B

It’s been five weeks since the Cowboys surrendered a TE TD and just as long since Ballard found the end zone. No reason to doubt either of those trends this week.

DT Giants S3 The Giants get after the quarterback, and Tony Romo has been known to have a brain fart every now and again. It’s not a great matchup, but if sacks and picks produce points you could be sitting pretty.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tony Romo S1

The Giants have given up at least 242 passing yards in five straight, including three games with 340 yards or better; they’ve also served up 10 passing touchdowns in the last three games. Romo is right there with both the yardage—at least 270 in four of five—and touchdowns—multiple scores in four of five as well—and makes a very nice fantasy play this week.

RB DeMarco Murray S3

Murray’s 12-38 stumble last week may open the door for Felix Jones to get more work; it’s not a soft enough matchup to support two fantasy backs, but Murray should still get a workload that allows reasonable productivity against a Dallas D that’s allowed a healthy 511 combo yards to opposing backs over the past three games alone.

RB Felix Jones B

Murray’s struggles led to Jones seeing more carries, but he’s still in the sub-double digits range and not doing enough with those to warrant fantasy attention.

WR Dez Bryant

The Giants didn’t have an answer for Bryant in last season’s series as he produced 158 yards and three touchdowns. Bryant is coming off an 8-86-1 week and there’s no indication the G-Men have any better clue how to defend him this time around.

WR Laurent Robinson

With Austin expected back Robinson may see some reduced action--especially if his shoulder injury limits his availability as it did in practice this week. However, if he's active he should still be able to do enough with that potentially smaller share to earn a spot in most fantasy lineups.

WR Miles Austin


Austin should get his starting gig back, if only to build on the 5-106-1 he put up in last season’s series. However, he was limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable, so It’s a bit of a risk running him out there sight unseen. We'll give him the nod as a fringe starter, but if you have another option that plays prior to Sunday night you may want to take the safer route.

TE Jason Witten S1

In last season’s series with the Giants Witten opened with 9-95-1, then was held to 1-7 in the rematch. Facing a Cowboys defense that’s allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends, Witten might end up outshining all of the Cowboys’ wideouts.

DT Cowboys S3 Like their opponent, the Cowboys get after the quarterback and are facing a QB known for the occasional really, really poor decision; that’s enough to punch their ticket to the starting lineup in many redraft leagues.
St. Louis at Seattle Back to top
St. Louis
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Sam Bradford B

Bradford didn’t practice all week due to an ankle injury, but he’s expecting to play on Sunday. Tom Brandsteter is the backup plan; you can do better than all of the above.

QB Tom Brandstetter B

The Rams' QB1 and QB2 haven't done much for fantasy purposes; no reason to think QB3 will be an improvement.

RB Steven Jackson S3

It’s not a lost cause, but Jackson’s pace has slowed dramatically since back-to-back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 8 through 10. Since then Jackson hasn’t scored, hasn’t topped 65 yards, and is averaging 2.9 yards per carry. Seattle has struggled of late against the run, serving up a pair of 100-yard games in the past month and three RB TDs in the past two games, but they’ve held Jackson scoreless and out of triple digits in three straight. He should see his usual workload—maybe more if the Rams are trying to protect an inexperienced quarterback—but he’ll have to work to carve out a fantasy helper.


Brandon Lloyd


Lloyd failed to score last week, stunning all who had banked on the Ram receiver’s reliability. If Bradford is healthy enough to play Lloyd is still his go-to guy and still worthy of a starting spot; if it’s Brandsteter, that’s too much risk to assume at this point in the season.

DT Rams B Aside from the occasional Chris Long sack this unit is doing nothing of note fantasy-wise.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Tarvaris Jackson B T-Jax threw for 148 and 1 in the earlier meeting, a typical outing of late for him. Tough to get excited about sub-200 yards and a touchdown or maybe two, especially in the fantasy playoffs.
RB Marshawn Lynch S1

Marshawn’s 27-88-1 in St. Louis three weeks ago was actually his worst outing over the past month-plus; he’s been in triple digits in both the two games previous and two games since, with five touchdowns in the four games. With scores in five straight at home he’s a borderline lock to improve on the earlier showing and extend his surprising string of success.


Golden Tate

S3 With Sidney Rice done for the season the Seahawks need a go-to receiver; Tate’s two TDs in the past two games nominate him for the gig.

Doug Baldwin

B It’s hardly a bad matchup, especially when you consider that the Rams have put 11 cornerbacks on injured reserve this season, but there are too many bit players in the mix for a relatively small set of passing numbers from T-Jax.
DT Seahawks S3 A little help from the 12th man, Red Bryant blocking kicks, and if both Bradford and A.J. Feeley are out the Seahawks will get an upgrade real quick.

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